President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Palestine seems to have evoked mixed response from the conflict-torn land. The first ever visit by an Indian President was treated by the Mahmud Abbas government as a gesture of consistent commitment for the Palestinian state. However, the students in Al- Quds University were protesting against India for having increasingly friendly relations with Israel. According to reports, the students were holding placards with slogans, “India why do you cooperate with occupiers?” and “Indian President raise your voice against Israel aggression” and so on.
Coming as it did at a time when the world is witnessing renewed attacks by Israel against the Palestinians, the protests should make the Indian government sit up and think about its policy in West Asia.
After a brief calm, Israeli violence has once again flared up. Thirty Palestinians have already died in the past two weeks as result of Isreali agression and the Palestinian resistance. Clashes were aggravated after the Israeli security forces began to crack down on worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque in eastern Jerusalem. India, in the past, has morally and politically stood with the Palestine people for their right to have a homeland, but the country has been consistently softening its stand against Israel since the 1990s. The change happened not because the Jewish State has stopped its aggression or it has agreed for peaceful co-existence with the Palestinian people. On the contrary, it was because India decided to go along with the US in matters of foreign policy after the fall of the Soviet bloc.
With the nda government in power, whose ideological affinity with the Jewish State is well known, India’s embrace with Israel has become tighter. This will further alienate the country from the people of West Asia.
Israel’s continuing aggression and Palestinians’ unending misery always stood as a testimony to the inefficiency and insensitivity of the UN. Apart from futile condemnations of the attacks, the UN has been a silent spectator to the half-a-century old bloodshed.
India has been arguing, and rightly so, for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, for a long time. At a time when the divisions among the powerful nations have come out in the open on various global issues, it will be in India’s interest to take a principled stand on all issues without being swayed away by the diktat of one country or the other.
Sincerely reaffirming support to the Palestine state and condemning Israel attacks would be a good beginning for India to get a rightful place in the international arena.